Sunday, 9 May 2021

I feel it’s safe to dance alone

The Roop

I was at this thing on Zoom the other day in a breakout room and one of those people that knows me from another thing was talking about something important to them, and slowly their grip on my attention started to loosen and my mind drifted away from the conscious reality of sitting there listening to them as my brain gently rose like a pretty hot air balloon ascending the heavens and gliding across a landscape of idle thoughts, while back on Earth my face was beaming onto their QHD+ screen in eye watering, razor sharp lifelike detail saying "mmm" and "ooh" and "really?" and occasionally arching its eyebrows like an actor in an advert who’s been asked to wordlessly indicate that his cough lozenges work.

As I gazed down at these idle thoughts, wondering which to toy with, I became aware of the fuzzy, trance-like state I was in - and realised that although I’d entered this state of reverie out of boredom, the experience of boredom itself was proving to be pretty interesting. In fact,it turns out that I don’t think "boredom" itself actually even exists. There’s no such thing as boredom, just varying degrees of fascination. We love this exaltation. We want the new temptations. It's like a revelation. We live on fascination.

When I was 13 I was off school for weeks, bedridden. I couldn’t move, or walk, or run. And there was no internet or satellite TV. I couldn’t move my right arm without experiencing blinding pain, which meant most existing forms of entertainment that I was familiar with, from reading to drawing to gameboy games to self-appreciation, were out of the question. All I could do was watch terrestrial television. Unfortunately, my illness struck in the middle of a major non-stop televised bowls tournament.

There I was, forced to lie still and watch the bowls for hours. Did I lose my mind with boredom? No I did not. I got right into it. It’s easy when there’s nothing else to do. You pick a favourite player first - not consciously, it just happens. Maybe one of them’s quite slick, or you don’t like his glasses, or you imagine he’s a bit of a cad in the club who treats the bar staff with absolute disdain. So you root for the other fella. Then there’s the actual game itself, which consists of tantalising footage of bowls gently swerving to a halt as close to the jack as possible.

This struck me as at least twice as exciting as the climax of Ghostbusters 2 (which was prescient of me, since Ghostbusters 2 didn’t come out until the year after).

What I’m saying is the mind entertains itself no matter what. It’s a blessing. It means that I’ve become fascinated by THE ROOP, a new and fresh-sounding pop rock band from Lithuania made up of Vaidotas Valiukevičius - lead vocals, keyboards; Robertas Baranauskas - drums; Mantas Banišauskas - guitar. THE ROOP are a mix of energy and feel. Live shows are lively, honest and have a strong relationship with the audience. They encompass multiple musical styles - rock, pop rock, soft rock, dance rock and even indie. Even indie!

THE ROOP certainly take their work seriously. The band released their video for debut single "Be Mine" with international actress and social message in November of 2014. However, they were far from being called unexperienced, all members of the band have been previously active in other music-related projects and the lead singer is also known as a TV host and an actor. The band spent almost four years in the studio looking for that perfect sound - writing 50 songs in the process before finally deciding on 10 good enough for their debut album "To Whom It May Concern". The record came out on November 30th, 2015; and CD came out on March 25th, 2016.

An extra touch was added by Australian Leon Zervos – top mastering engineer from Studios 301 (Sydney) who has worked with INXS, Aerosmith, Muse, Coldplay and many other music's biggest names. The video of "Not Too Late", which came out in the late October of 2015, contains the latest technologies in video shooting and allows the viewer to undergo a whole new experience in video watching. What they did is a combination of two complex technologies in one music video – 360 degree shooting and animates characters.

I’ve listened to THE ROOP’S second album "Ghosts" over and over and over again. The band members openly confess that the recording period was a real challenge – the band was on the verge of splitting up. This album consists of 9 songs, among them several already known tunes: the dreamy "Dream On", open and intimate "Keista Draugystė" and "Hello" – the latter is famous for its bold video picturing real people and their life stories.

And I tried, I really did, listening to their pretentious Eurovision entry "Discoteque". For well over six seconds I imagined that I was in a club in Vilnius, singing about being observed by others as if through a magnifying glass, as we search for ourselves in reflections of other people, in the public opinion, in gazes of strangers, and most frequently the image is incomplete, crooked - but when we gain confidence reflections become nothing but a game.

But then YouTube offered up one of those videos of a springer spaniel putting a softmint in a bottle of coke and it was all gone.